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Study: Wealth and a Woman’s Worth – Huge Gap for Women of Color

April 5, 2010

RICHMOND, Va. - Women of color in Virginia and across the U.S. are finding it increasingly difficult to generate and sustain wealth, according to a recent report. The study found that single black women in their prime earning years, ages 36 to 49, have a median wealth (assets minus debts) of only $5, compared to over $42,000 for single white women.

Doug Smith, executive director of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, says there's a background in history for this situation.

"What we're seeing is the legacy of racism compounded by a legacy of women's low wages in the African American community, and that means desperation in many of our neighborhoods."

Smith says the best answer is creating good job opportunities with fair wages, and providing greater support for minority-owned businesses.

The report also showed that from 2004 to 2008, African American females were more likely than white women to receive high-cost mortgage products.

Helen O'Beirne, director for the Center for Housing Leadership at Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, says almost half of the clients seen by her agency for foreclosure prevention counseling were African American women.

"I think it's not surprising. We saw African Americans, minorities, especially African American women, as primary targets for some of the worse sub-prime loans when that boom was going on a few years ago."

O'Beirne says that since home ownership is the primary way most people are able to achieve wealth, better public policies need to be implemented to assist under-served communities with home ownership.

The report, "Lifting as We Climb: Women of Color, Wealth and America's Future," is available online at:
www.insightcced.org


Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA